“Already” and “Not Yet”

Whenthe Second World War came to an end in 1945, some people in areas of the world very far away never got the news for a long time.  In somewhat the same way, St. John keeps a tension between the victory in Jesus already won, yet not fully realized in all of creation.  There is a tug between “Already” and “Not Yet.”

Whenever we learn about very bad things taking place in the world, we might wonder whether God’s victory over evil has really taken place.  What we don’t know, except by faith, is that the love and goodness of God released into the world because of Jesus’s death and resurrection will surely be the winner and not evil.  

Just keep receiving God’s gift of faith, hope and love; joy will enter your soul and stay there.  

Revelation 20

Thursdays are dedicated to the letters of Paul, other letters,
the Book of Acts, and the Book of Revelation.

These Firestarters are from a new edition of The Bible Through the Seasons being developed for families with children. For the Firestarters in the original edition, I recommend the ebook.  You will have the entire program of well over a thousand of these introductions with you on your phone or table! Check the menu options at the site for more information.

The Simple Gift of Life

As so often in the Psalms, the writer of Psalm 148 finds God in everything from the sun and moon to all God’s creatures.  Just because all these have been created, they praise God.

We humans, however, have a choice to either praise God or not.  Whenever we lose the awareness of the simple gift of being alive, then we can easily be led into “bad moods,” and other thoughts that have us become self-centered,  instead of God-centered. Like a fire going out, our sense of wonder and praise of God can become dim. 

Take a few minutes to simply be.  Feel the weight of your body, sitting balanced in a chair; watch the wondrous flow of your breathing in and out like gentle waves in a calm ocean.  Then there’s your heart, beating gently in the center of your body. Feel the simple gift of your life.  You will find gratitude and praise of God welling up from your heart.

Psalm 148

Wednesdays are devoted to the reading of the Psalms, one a week across the three-year cycle.

These Firestarters are from a new edition of The Bible Through the Seasons being developed for families with children. For the Firestarters in the original edition, I recommend the ebook.  You will have the entire program of well over a thousand of these introductions with you on your phone or table! Check the menu options at the site for more information.

Your Smiles and Your Love

We come now to the last of the thirty-nine books of the Hebrew Bible, the prophet Malachi.  He wrote during the middle of the fifth century, B.C.  He preached at a time when the Temple was rebuilt after it had earlier been destroyed.  However, just as happened with the first Temple built by Solomon, people became interested in other gods.  God called Malachi to wake up the people, reminding them with words of power, that the kind of worship God wants is not about sacrificing animals, but sacrificing oneself in acts of love and compassion for others.

My favorite verse in the reading is verse 11: “My name will be great among the nations, from the rising to the setting of the sun.” Today, sense the movement of the sun throughout the day, letting it’s light lead you at every moment to those persons who need your smiles and your love. 

Malachi 1

Mondays are dedicated to the reading of the Hebrew Prophets.

These Firestarters are from a new edition of The Bible Through the Seasons being developed for families with children. For the Firestarters in the original edition, I recommend the ebook.  You will have the entire program of well over a thousand of these introductions with you on your phone or table! Check the menu options at the site for more information.

Focus on Jesus

One of the religious groups at the time of Jesus were called Sadducees.  In addition to other jobs, they took care of keeping the Temple neat and clean.  Along with the Pharisees, they got very angry and upset when they saw crowds of people turning away from them and listening to Jesus teach in the Temple. With eyes wide open and ears focused, so may people found delight, joy and healing when Jesus was around.

One day a group of Sadducees decided to trip Jesus up with a question about life after death.  They believed that when you die you were buried—that’s it.  You’ll read about their trick question and how Jesus responded.

\If you were in the crowd, wouldn’t it bother you that some hecklers were interrupting Jesus?   When  you read today’s story and everyday when you read the Bible, keep your focus on Jesus’s words and on his beautiful face shining in your heart. 

Luke 20:27-38

On Sundays we follow the Gospels from the Revised Common Lectionary.

These Firestarters are from a new edition of The Bible Through the Seasons being developed for families with children. For the Firestarters in the original edition, I recommend the ebook.  You will have the entire program of well over a thousand of these introductions with you on your phone or table! Check the menu options at the site for more information.

A Model for Everyone

Having completed a history of the earliest ages, the sacred writer of Genesis turns his attention to the one who is called the father of all Jews, Muslims and Christians—Abraham.  He is such a person of faith and trust in God, that he can be a model for everyone who would come to believe in Jesus and leave all to follow Jesus.  

God offers a very special agreement with Abraham and the human family, called a covenant.  God wants Abraham to trust in God, even when his people experience famine—something that would happen much later in the history of the Hebrews when they became slaves in Egypt.  Then the great leader God raised up was Moses.

Sense how Abraham moved from being an unimportant, ordinary person, to the great leader he would become. All this happened because he left the comfort of what was familiar to him, and followed God into a new future.  Get ready: God has wonderful plans for you as your future unfolds!

Genesis 12—13

The Saturday passages follow the reading list that Jewish people use in their synagogue worship throughout the world. They are taken from
“The Torah,” the first five books of the Bible from Genesis to Deuteronomy that are read each year beginning with autumn.

These Firestarters are from a new edition of The Bible Through the Seasons being developed for families with children. For the Firestarters in the original edition, I recommend the ebook.  You will have the entire program of well over a thousand of these introductions with you on your phone or table! Check the menu options at the site for more information.

The Good Thief

Christ and the Good Thief (c. 1566), by Titian (1490-1576)

Then this criminal said to Jesus, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom! Then Jesus said to him, “Listen! What I say is true: Today you will be with me in paradise!” Luke 23:42-43

Pilate was so afraid of making the Jewish crowd angry, that he forgot to be fair, compassionate and simply honest about Jesus who stood before him.  Like a coward, he gives in and sentences Jesus to death.

Stand before Jesus on the cross.   Listen to the crowds mock and shout at Jesus.  There are a few  faithful women standing at the foot of Jesus’s cross, quietly weeping.

One more person silently observes all that is going on—one of the criminals on the cross alongside Jesus.  He has come to be called, “The Good Thief.” Like Zacchaeus, high up in a tree, so does this man, lifted high on the cross as Jesus, see all that’s going on.  In the middle of the mocking and shouting of the crowd, he is aware of the love that flows from Jesus, just as does Jesus’s blood.  Catch the beauty of the words that Jesus and he share together.

  Luke 23:13-43

Fridays are dedicated to the Gospels. This being Year C,
the third year in the cycle, we generally read from the Gospel of Luke.

These Firestarters are from a new edition of The Bible Through the Seasons being developed for families with children. For the Firestarters in the original edition, I recommend the ebook.  You will have the entire program of well over a thousand of these introductions with you on your phone or table! Check the menu options at the site for more information.

Like the End of a Symphony

The only book of the Bible that has the word “Alleluia” in it, is the psalms.  However, today, the sound of Alleluia makes its way into today’s reading, the only time that Alleluia is found in the New Testament.  With great shouts, this sound of praising God happens four times in the first six verses of the reading.  

Just as the final five psalms begin and end with Alleluia, concluding this year of grace, so also does the Book of Revelation mount in songs of joy and praise as God wins out over evil. Like the end of a wonderful symphony where all the instruments are saying “Alleluia” in their own way,  so does “Alleluia” leap out as this year of God’s grace soon comes to an end; Advent is coming in a few weeks, the season of hope as we prepare to celebrate Christmas. 

Revelation 19

Thursdays are dedicated to the letters of Paul, other letters,
the Book of Acts, and the Book of Revelation.

These Firestarters are from a new edition of The Bible Through the Seasons being developed for families with children. For the Firestarters in the original edition, I recommend the ebook.  You will have the entire program of well over a thousand of these introductions with you on your phone or table! Check the menu options at the site for more information.